Bill Kristol: The Facts of Life.The country takes priority over conservative navel gazing.

My suggestion last week that perhaps the best way some of us who've been conservatives can now help the country is to help the Biden administration succeed, and help the Democratic party move to the center, seems to have stirred up a minor tempest in the conservative teapot.

I asked whether one shouldn't "consider allying oneself with the Biden wing of the Democratic party? Aren't the Red Dogs worth at least a thought?" And the answer, from several reasonable and honest conservatives, was, "Not really."

That's fine. I wrote the piece to stimulate debate and I'm glad it did. I didn't expect everyone to abandon long-held attachments overnight, or to put aside newly enchanting other possibilities for this somewhat more mundane proposition.

But let's go back over the available options:

You want to save the Republican party? I'm all for it. In fact, the Republican Accountability Project, of which I'm a part, is doing its best to help do so.

You're interested in exploring whether a new, centrist party is possible, as Joe Walsh urged last week? I'm game to take a look.

I am, however, not convinced that either of those alternatives presents a viable short-term path forward—at a moment when the short term is deeply important, because our democracy faces an internal crisis.

After all, we did just fail to have a traditionally peaceful transfer of power.

One of our two major parties—having failed in a coup attempt—now claims that the current administration is illegitimately elected, the result of massive, coordinated fraud. The logical extension of this position would seem to be that the American constitutional order deserving of our allegiance no longer exists.

So we are at the edge of crisis, having repulsed one attempted authoritarian power grab and bracing for another.

in light of this, I would argue that the current debate really isn't about—or rather shouldn't be about—how we feel we can best be true to ourselves. Or how closely we can hew to our longstanding principles. Or where this person or that policy stands in the long and interesting history of American conservatism.

For me at least, the proper debate should be about the country and the preservation of the democratic order. And the most important question is: What is now achievable and beneficial for America?

"I adhere to conservative principles so I can't take this step" is an understandable reaction to my suggestion. But I'd say it's not really a conservative reaction. A conservative considers the real-world consequences of her principles. A conservative considers how adherence to—or deviation from—certain principles would help or hurt the goals conservatism seeks to achieve. Because it is these goals—liberty, justice, good government, democracy, stability, and so on—that matter. Not the "-ism." Conservatism is a means to those goals, not an end in itself.

Or to put it otherwise: When Margaret Thatcher commented that "the facts of life are conservative," she wasn't adding "the facts of life" to a list of arguments for conservatism. She was saying she was conservative because the facts of life are what they are.

And one of those facts of life is that a dangerous, anti-democratic faction—which pretty clearly constitutes a majority—of the nation's conservative party is not committed in any serious way to the truth, the rule of law, or the basic foundations of our liberal democracy.

At bottom, I think we need to spend more time thinking through the challenges facing our democratic order today, and less time gazing into the navel of American conservatism.

Don't get me wrong. I'm interested in debates about American conservatism. I'd like to save American conservatism. But I'm more interested in saving—and I have a greater sense of urgency about saving—American democracy.

William Kristol, The Bulwark, March 1, 2021

Kristol, the editor-in-chief of The Bulwark, is an American neoconservative political analyst.


March 2, 2021

Voices4America Post Script. Yesterday, Neoconservative Bill Kristol wrote, politically, we are a nation in crisis.

For the first time in our history, one of our major parties resisted a peaceful transition of power, and many Republican leaders continue to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of our President.

Heather Cox Richardson puts this in prospective as the GOP nationwide writes laws to suppress the vote. Read it all here!

Read Mar 2, 2021, Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American.

March 1, 2021

Heather Cox RichardsonMar 2CommentShare
This morning, conservative pundit William Kristol wrote in The Bulwark what a number of us have been saying for a while now, and it dovetails cleanly with the current Republican attempt to suppress voting.

Kristol warns that our democracy is in crisis. For the first time in our history, we have failed to have a peaceful transfer of power. The Republican Party launched a coup—which fortunately failed—and "now claims that the current administration is illegitimately elected, the result of massive, coordinated fraud. The logical extension of this position would seem to be that the American constitutional order deserving of our allegiance no longer exists."

"So," he notes, "we are at the edge of crisis, having repulsed one attempted authoritarian power grab and bracing for another."
Claims that American democracy is on the ropes in the face of an authoritarian power grab raise accusations of partisanship… but in this case, the person making the claim is a conservative, who goes on to urge conservatives to join behind President Joe Biden to try to save democracy. Kristol warns that "a dangerous, anti-democratic faction" of the Republican Party "is not committed in any serious way to the truth, the rule of law, or the basic foundations of our liberal democracy."

Kristol's call is notable both because of his position on the right and because he warns that we are absolutely not in a moment of business-as-usual. Perhaps because it is impossible to imagine, we seem largely to have normalized that the former president of the United States refused to accept his loss in the 2020 election and enlisted a mob to try to overturn the results. Along with his supporters, he continues to insist that he won that election and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate usurper.
This big lie threatens the survival of our democracy.

At the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference this weekend in Orlando, Florida, Trump supporters doubled down on the lie that Biden stole the 2020 election. From a stage shaped like a piece of Nazi insignia, speakers raged that they were victims of "cancel culture" on the part of Big Tech and the left, which are allegedly trying to silence them. To restore fairness, they want to stop "voter fraud" and restore "election integrity," and they want to force social media giants to let them say whatever they want on social media.

In the Washington Post, commentator Jennifer Rubin said the modern conservatives at CPAC had no policy but revenge, "resentment, cult worship and racism," and no political goal but voter suppression. It is "the only means by which they seek to capture power in an increasingly diverse America," she notes. A poll showed that "election integrity" was the issue most important to CPAC attendees, with 62% of them choosing it over "constitutional rights" (which got only 48%).
Trump himself packaged this lie in words that sounded much like the things he said before the January 6 insurrection. He claimed that he had won the election, that the election was "rigged," and that it was "undeniable" that the rules of the election were "illegally changed"—although none of his many court challenges stuck. He attacked the Supreme Court in language that echoed the attacks on his vice president, Mike Pence, that had rioters searching him out to kill him. "They didn't have the guts or the courage to make the right decision," Trump said of the justices.

The purpose of this big lie is not only to reinforce Trump's hold on the Republican Party, but also to delegitimize the Democratic victory. If Democrats cheat, it makes sense to prevent "voter fraud" by making it harder to vote. "We must pass comprehensive election reforms, and we must do it now," Trump said.

Republican reforms, though, mean voter suppression. Currently, Republican legislators in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills to restrict voting. They want to cut back early voting and restrict mail-in voting, limit citizen-led ballot initiatives, and continue to gerrymander congressional districts. Arizona is trying to make it possible for state legislatures, rather than voters, to choose the state's presidential electors. Rather than try to draw voters to their party's candidates by moderating their stances, they are trying to win power by keeping people from voting.

I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous this is. We have gone down this road before in America, in the South after 1876. The outcome was the end of democracy in the region and the establishment of a single, dominant party for generations. In those decades, a small body of men ruled their region without oversight and openly mocked the idea of justice before the law. A member of the jury that took only 67 minutes to acquit Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam for murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 famously said, "We wouldn't have taken so long if we hadn't stopped to drink pop." White men dominated women and their Black and Brown neighbors, but their gains were largely psychological, as the one-party system created instability that slowed down economic investment, while leaders ignored education and infrastructure.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit concerning Arizona election laws. The case is from 2016, when Democrats argued that two Arizona voting laws discriminated against Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous voters in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that hamper voting on the basis of race. The laws called for ballots cast in the wrong precinct to be thrown away and allowed only election officials, letter carriers, household family members, or caregivers to return someone else's mail-in ballot. A violation could bring a $150,000 fine. The court's decision in this case will have big implications for the legitimacy of the restrictions Republican legislatures are trying to enact now.

Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to shore up voting rights with H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021. This sweeping measure would make it easier to vote, curtail gerrymandering, make elections more secure, and reform the campaign finance system.
They are also proposing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, H.R. 4, which would restore the parts of the Voting Rights Act the Supreme Court gutted in 2013 in the Shelby v. Holder decision, limiting changes to election laws that disproportionately affect people of color. After Shelby v. Holder, a number of states immediately enacted sweeping voter suppression laws that disproportionately hit minorities, the elderly, and the young, all populations perceived to vote Democratic.

Neither of these bills will pass the Senate unless the Democrats modify the filibuster rule, which permits Republicans to stop legislation unless it can muster not just a majority, but a supermajority of 60 votes.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Judge Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Garland is noted for supervising the prosecution of the men who bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995, hoping to topple the federal government. In his opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary committee last week, Garland vowed that, if confirmed, he "will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6—a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government." He promised that he would follow where the investigation led, even if it went "upstream" to those who might not have been in the Capitol, but who nevertheless were participants in the insurrection.

The vote to move Garland's nomination to the full Senate was 15 to 7, with Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) all voting no.
With the exception of Sasse, all those voting no have signed on to the big lie.

Twitter avatar for @digiphileAlex Howard @digiphileThe @WhiteHouse has issued a statement of support for #HR1/#S1 (aka the #ForThePeopleAct) as a PDF, but has not tweeted it yet:…These should go in the briefing room - or (better yet) narrated on a blog. (The WH website kind of IS a blog now, but still.)

ImageImageMarch 1st 2021
25 Retweets78 Likes/photo/1
CPAC poll:
Twitter avatar for @RyanGirduskyRyan James Girdusky @RyanGirdusky#CPAC2021 poll on the most important issues... re-opening the economy was fourth ImageFebruary 28th 2021
291 Retweets902 Likes
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